Experiment 1 Video: “Philosophical Follies”
Please don’t judge too hard; this was the first time I had ever been behind the camera…
The whole point of this film stems from a prompt designed by one of my professors. We had to create an ironic story, so I chose to focus on someone who studies their heart out for a final exam, rushes to take the exam and then finishes the test with interesting results.
The close-up shots seen in my film give the audience context to going on in the plot, as seen in the shot around the 0:06 mark. This shot uses a shallow depth of field. I achieved this change in focus by shifting the rack focus to give the packet in the background more prominence and focus over the notes in the foreground. This allows audience members to glance at the notes and realize that the main character (Ryan) is indeed studying for a test. The fact that the actual notes are not clear, or that the shot does not have a deep depth of field, helps to establish the realization the audience members will come to at the end of the video: that the actual studying was in vain. I try to break the rules of close-up shots around the 1:54 mark, when I show the written text that the main character writes down in his bluebook. The rule of thirds dictates that the most important aspect of any shot should be at the edges the middle “box;” I intentionally placed the word “Everything” in the middle-left box in order to show that the main character wrote only one word on the test. This type of misuse of the rule of thirds is common in Agnes Varda’s La Pointe Courte, which is what inspired me to add that type of framing to my experimental film.
Another example includes establishing shots, such as the one establishing the exam question (1:24 mark) and the outside Quadrangle area setting (0:52 mark). With the Quadrangle area setting establishing shot, I chose to include the greenery and other people to show how people were walking to and from classes, that we were in a more normal reality (one that the audience member who has probably tried to get to a Final Examination before it started can attest). By keeping the frame wide, I was able to show more action going on in the scene. I also wanted the action to go from the right to the left of the frame, similar to how action is “supposed to take place in the frame. This shot was an homage to the “Louvre scene” from Bande à Part; it is against the rules to run through the Quad at LSU, just like it is at the Louvre. Around the 0:55 mark, one can see an unidentified student relaxing in the Quad, which is what people do there. Lastly, I broke the rules when establishing the exam question. The scene is a side-view of the action; it was not head-on. I also did not allow the audience to dwell upon the exam question for long, even though the question plays a huge role in the narrative. By cutting the time allowed for the audience member to perceive the question revelation and anticipate an answer, I break the rules of film that dictate more camera time for important parts of the narrative. This plays into the narrative even more, because the question should be the most important thing for the main character at that moment. The character should be filling up the bluebook with pages of philosophical references and answers.
It is important to note that I did not plan out the clapping at the end; another class happened to start clapping at the same time as my main character’s departure from the testing classroom. I felt that, in true French New Wave style, I should include that improvised and “pure luck” moment into my project. Also, I originally changed the coloring to black and white. Unfortunately, the exam question on the board would not show up when I placed the filter on the raw footage. Actual footage used in the film totals at 2:05 minutes. I chose to leave the five seconds after editing the original edited version. I feel that every aspect of my film is important. The good part about the editing is that it forced me to add jump cuts to my film, which heightens the audience’s expectations for action. I also chose to make the main character scream “Oh merde” as part of my reference to the French New Wave, since all of the films we have watched are in French.